Discover more from Joe Lonsdale
Announcing Season 3 of American Optimist
Andrew Yang Kicks Off the New "Build" Season
In 1930, it took 13 months to complete the Empire State Building, then the world’s tallest skyscraper. In 1943, the Air Force's first fighter jet was designed and delivered in 143 days. The Manhattan Project took three years; President Kennedy's moonshot landed in seven; and the list goes on.
America's economic superpower is that we are a nation of builders. When we relentlessly apply our will and ambition, we achieve unprecedented feats – and in record time.
Yet, in recent decades, the pace and scale of achievement have slowed. In many sectors of our economy, we've traded a builder mindset for that of a bureaucrat — risk-averse, over-regulated, and assigned to manage the status quo.
Examples abound. Today, city officials hold ribbon-cutting ceremonies for the reopening of public restrooms after two decades of inexplicable closure. Our government takes years to process visitor visas and more than a decade to approve life-saving drugs. The nation's largest, most prosperous state can't complete a high-speed rail project — it can barely start it.
We’ll spare you the full list of dysfunction.
That said, there are still leaders who know how to cut through the obstacles, overcome the division, and build things. In Season 3 of American Optimist, we’re featuring some of their stories and exploring what it takes to build organizations and enterprises of lasting consequence.
We’ll show you how great builders see the world differently, what frameworks they apply, how they spot talent, and more. Unaccountable bureaucracies spend a lot of time virtue-signaling and propping up failed policies, but courageous leaders can reinsert substance, accountability, innovation, and drive positive results.
For the first episode of Season 3 (Episode 40), I’m honored to sit down with Andrew Yang. Many people know him from his 2020 Presidential campaign, but before that, Andrew was an entrepreneur who built an organization called Venture for America. More recently, he launched a new political party, the Forward Party. Andrew and I don't agree on everything politically (that would be boring), but we are both builders who want to see more entrepreneurial energy harnessed across our country to confront important problems with innovation and competence.
In Episode 41, you'll meet my old friend “E,” who is now one of Africa's great tech entrepreneurs. He’s built two unicorns in Nigeria — and that’s just the beginning. His most recent startup, Flutterwave, raised at a $3 billion valuation in 2022, making it the highest-valued startup on the continent.
Looking ahead, we’ll talk to successful builders from various sectors of American life: consumer product innovators, best-selling authors, Wall Street legends, and rising tech stars. Stay tuned for new episodes weekly! We’re grateful for your support and hope you’ll continue to help American Optimist grow and reach new audiences.
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